Posts Tagged ‘task’


I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s a training day.  What this means for us is it’s a cleaning day on the pod and there are no ERP group sessions.  We’d been told by our ERP Social Worker Ms. Grey that this would be a different kind of cleaning day in that it would be a more extensive cleaning than we’d been accustomed but that didn’t appear to be the case.  I never enjoy days like this but mostly because of my own personality I dislike chaos and disorganization, and while the process to get the cleanup done fits that description, the work does get done.  It was a little different for me this time being a swamper.  At the end of the cleanup, fellow swamper David Sussex and I had to move all the tables and chairs out of the dayroom, turning the tables on the side to clean out hidden treasures from underneath in the rail of the table such as butter and ketchup packets, stored there by inmates so they can have extras at a meal of their choice.  To be honest, its an unpleasant task as often the packets have been crushed and are messy.  After this was done, we mop the entire floor and sweep.  We still get in each others way but it’s a work in progress that will get solved as we get familiar with the job and each other.  Once we were done we had to move the tables back to where they were.  The former swamper that is working with cellie Brian Whalen to go back into the business of dealing drugs decided to direct Sussex and I where to put the tables.  That was fine until he decided he was going to have fun with it.  I have little tolerance for the former swamper to begin with much less any desire to fool around while working.  I’m kind of the type to get focused on a task.  So, I walked away when Sussex continued to play with him.  Someone came over and helped Sussex.  He’d tell me later he was just wanting to goof around.  I suppose I get it.  They’re both about 10 years younger than me and the way they work is different than mine.  And lets face it, it’s not like the fate of the free world rests on my performance so I could lighten up.  Once done, we returned to our cells for the day supposedly to work on ERP program materials.  That was no problem for cellie Larry Sands and I as we had a ton of stuff to do.  By Friday we had to have our Phase III Goals and Objectives done, the Living With Others Workbook done – all 61 pages and we’re supposed to be working on our legacy project for the graduation.  I managed to finish the workbook but not doing a very thorough job in the process.  I wrote up my Phase III goals as improving social skills and working on patience.  Because the goals are to be presented by Friday May 13th, I chose the Bible as my basis for study on patience, as there’s no time to find and read a book of any value on the subject and to write an essay on it.  For improving social skills, I’m writing an essay on the positives and negative things I’ve learned about myself working as the swamper.  Just a lot of time constraints.  At lunch and supper, Sussex continues to have real problems counting trays.  But more importantly, we had another guard who rarely works on our unit.  He let me know right away there would be no extra food given to swampers when he works.  I was fine with that as I rarely eat the extra stuff anyway.  But it told me this wasn’t going to go well.  At 6 pm after supper he wouldn’t let us come out of our rooms as every other floor is locked down on training day.  But he didn’t know the program floors like ours were exempted.  So 7 to 8 inmates were down at his desk arguing the point with him.  Finally a white shirt (supervisor) let him now.  But by the time cleanup began, barely anyone was in the dayroom which was funny considering all the fuss that was made.  It came time to take out the trash.  I asked the guard to open the door but he ignored me for 10 minutes, while chatting with another guard.  I just left it and went to go get ready for 9:15 am count.  Yes, I still need to work on patience?  After count, I read emails you all send to the sponsors for me.  One reader, who has corresponded in the past, compared reading this blog to an episode of Real Housewives.  I get that!  But more importantly, it gave me a real good laugh prior to going to sleep.  So thank you!

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I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP). They handed out canteen last night which was unremarkable except for the fact I met the regular second shift guard, a sweet older lady by the name of Ruth Bartkowski.  Ruth actually sincerely inquired how I was doing in my adjustment to MSDF.  We talked about what a shock it is to the system for those of us coming from medium or minimum security environments.  I think I genuinely smiled for the first time since my arrival here while talking to her. And if that wasn’t enough, after I had returned to my cell I was well into a bag of BBQ chips being so hungry and my cellmate Malik Pearl appeared to be sleeping on his bunk with his headphones on, her partner tonight, a guard in his mid-twenties, who looks like he could be in a band, named Peter Thorn, came to our cell to inspect it.  I said that was fine.  But he saw Malik sleeping, inquired with me about it and I replied he was.  Then Thorn shocked me with what he said.  He didn’t want to wake Malik up so he’d inspect us another time.  Are you kidding me?  Between Bartkowski and Thorn, the laws of the universe are being turned upside down!  So, I’m in a good mood until time to lock in for the night when Andre Charles and Brian Whalen were talking and appearing to try to shield their conversation from me.  I don’t really care what they are saying.  I’m more annoyed by it and I find it disrespectful.  But I’m in prison so I shouldn’t expect politeness.  The next morning after we ate breakfast and had returned to our cell all of a sudden the power in the cell went out but the lights remained on.  We heard yelling ordering us to come out of our cell.  I was pretty sure it was a shakedown.  I felt pretty confident about not having anything considered contraband.  My cellies scrambled to throw various things in our little wastebasket, but I made sure I was the last one out to make sure they didn’t throw anything on my bunk.  Once downstairs, I had a wave of panic hit me.  I had used newspapers I’d gotten on my subscription to pad my extremely thin pillow and I also remembered I’d brought a box of raisins from breakfast a few days ago and it was on top of my locker.  Ok it isn’t major contraband but I don’t know their attitudes here.  So we were taken to another pod and crammed in a room to await them to complete their task.  We were there about an hour.  I heard they’ve had more searches in the last month than the rest of the year.  My previous institution, Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), was also doing this.  Some say its a budget thing as that whole process in the State of Wisconsin is beginning.  I don’t know.  We were then brought out into the dayroom of the pod we were in to be strip searched prior to returning to our pod.  Even the social workers were locked in clearly upsetting them.  It was there we learned that the canine unit of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office had been here.  In addition to the normal strip search procedure, we had to endure the indignity of bending over so they could see up there.  Other guys report they had to spread their toes for the guard.  We then returned to the same room and then we all assembled in the room next to our pod as our cell number was called.  Finally one cell was left and instead of joining us they were locked in that pod.  What they had had in their cell is unknown but one person among them was scheduled to be released today.  But all 4 were taken to the hole.  I can just imagine what’s going on in that guy’s head.  After 6 months of ERP, putting up with this place and then this.  I don’t know and probably wont’ get to find out what happened to him.  I got back to my cell, the box of raisins still there and newspapers undisturbed but while I’m thankful I realize how truly thin the line between success and failure will be for me at MSDF.


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  It may not come as a shock to you that many inmates have problems with boundaries.  The real question for me is whether or not the person violating my boundaries has acted in a malicious manner or is it just the way they are.  Most of the time I have an opportunity to assess the situation or person and methodically make a decision how I’ll react to a violation.  That wasn’t the case today.  This particular situation involved an inmate named Charlie who lives in my row of bunks on Unit 9.  Charlie who has been in many years, goes up and down the aisles, begging coffee, food and it is rumored he is not above taking something left out on a bunk or cupboard.  In fact, it got to the point where inmates in other rows in an effort to defend their row  without having to snitch, joined together and told him he was banned from their aisle.  Policing themselves has mixed success at a minimum security level.  It is more effective in a medium environment where the threat of violence is more prevalent.  Unfortunately, since Charlie lives in my aisle, he can’t be banned here.  The problem for Charlie as I perceive it, is he has nobody to help him financially on the outside.  Neither did I, but I received money for valued possessions which I use for my expenses.  If he did that, how long since it dried up.  Many of us are not without heart.  We gave him coffee and other items.  He promised many he would pay them back in some fashion.  But he repaid very few.  I was one of the few.  You might ask if others expected to be paid back, how are they showing heart or compassion?  Because nothing his ever free, not in the real world but especially here.  When he didn’t pay back the others, fact is no one would do anything about it because Charlie is a physically imposing person.  He is at least 6’8” and at least 300lbs.  But what made people even more angry was he took much of what was given him and traded it for cigarettes.  People felt hustled because they felt they had given to meet his needs.  From his perspective, he had taken what he had gotten to trade to meet his real “need”.  Charlie had misrepresented his intentions to others – again not shocking behavior from some inmates.  The effect of all this was that no one would have anything to do with him.  I thought the situation would improve for him once he got a job in the kitchen.  He would be able to scam food out of the kitchen to trade for his wants or needs, which is exactly what happened.  But for these folks like myself he did pay back, somehow in his mind this represented a bond between him and each individual.  He would come by our bunk areas and want to peer in our cupboards, wanting to know what we had in canteen and trying to propose various deals.  No one was interested and I could see the confusion in his eyes.  But my understanding attitude evaporated yesterday when he came up to me from the side, put his arms around me and whispered he needed food and wanted to trade.  He could have told me he had a pardon from the governor and my reaction would have been the same.  I jabbed my elbow in his rib cage and warned him to step off (back).  Looking surprised he asked me what was with the attitude.  He really didn’t understand this.  Yes, I have issues.  Did I overreact?  I tried unsuccessfully to explain in my agitated state about my space, my boundaries and his need to respect that.  He walked away and it was over.  Normally in these situations one might fear retaliation from others.  Not this time.  Charlie is universally disliked.  But the task before me is to figure out how I can handle a situation like this differently in the future, why I fear people getting in my space so much and what to do about it. 


I’m at the Fox Lake Minimum Correctional Institution (FMCI), a facility in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS).  Did you know Jake Martin (my pen name) has a Facebook page?  Feel free to send a friend request and post your thoughts or stories.  I’d love to hear from you.  I haven’t mentioned it before despite it having been out there for some time.  My bad.  It’s the same as always, if you post something directed to me or the blog sponsors, you’ll get an answer.  My real identity also has a Facebook and Windows Live presence.  I had a successful .NET Framework and Information Technology blog on Windows Live.  As a result, I developed a rather large network of IT Professionals.  After I’d been arrested, it appeared I had just suddenly vanished and some of those contacts began making inquiries into what had happened to me.  Some of these folks are now “sponsors” of this blog.  One serves as my power of attorney (POA) and several update this blog with what I write, handle the increasing amount of correspondence and try to keep me grounded which can be a trying task.  Isn’t it ironic that those that knew me from the virtual world proved to be there for me much more than anyone from the physical world?  Friends from my church, Christian band, the Fortune 500 company I worked for as a software developer, or other associates, most I never heard from even after it became common knowledge where I was, courtesy of my now ex-wife.  It was human nature to want to befriend a guy on his way up in his profession, making great money, who started a talented Christian rock band and seemed to always have an answer for the problem confided.  But it was also human nature that when the ship of my life was taking on water and sinking to try and get as far away, as fast as possible, lest the suction of the disaster somehow affect them.  So though I got angry, I eventually came to see their reaction as natural, almost intuitive, to the events that had taken place.  I was asked if I forgive them for not standing by me.  I now answer there was nothing to forgive.  They didn’t then or now owe me a thing.  The problem here was my expectations of my relationships with people.  I wanted 100% loyalty not because I loved them, but because that little boy in me was tired of being hurt and abandoned.  I would extend my loyalty, but here’ the thing.  They never asked for that.  The sad fact is I can’t hold those close to me hostage to my issues and call that a relationship.  Perhaps I am the one that should seek forgiveness from them.  I, under my real name, still occasionally have updates posted to Facebook.  My blog still collects 300 hits a day, despite not having been updated in 17 months, mostly .NET and IT guys looking for a particular solution.  Still, I haven’t come up with a way to handle the classmate that pops up on Facebook and such.  I don’t want to tell people I’m in prison.  I’m ashamed.  I don’t have an answer so I’ve been ignoring those friend requests and comments that come in.  I am sure there is a way I’m suppose to handle it.  As always, if I keep an open mind, the answer will come.